The spectacle of research assessment systems: insights from New Zealand and the United Kingdom

  • Bikram Chatterjee, Carolyn J. Cordery, Ivo De Loo, Hugo Letiche
  • Accounting Auditing & Accountability Journal, April 2020, Emerald
  • DOI: 10.1108/aaaj-01-2019-3865

An analysis of Research Assessment systems in the UK and NZ

What is it about?

We focus on two countries' (the UK and NZ) research assessment systems. These are the REF and PBRF respectively. We ask how accounting academics in those two countries experience/react to the systematic differences between these two systems. These academics agree that journal rankings and citations shape their choice of publication outlet. But the UK academics are more critical of research assessment which has had a longer history than in NZ. NZ academics have less push-back but recognise growing individualism. In both countries, these academics lament the lack of focus on practitioner engagement.

Why is it important?

This work is theorised using the notion of a 'spectacle society' - drawing on Debord (1992) and Flyverbom and Reinecke (2017). This theorisation helped to show the different ways in which academics respond to research assessment which challenges some of the prior research which has posited research assessment exercises as only negative.


Professor Carolyn J Cordery
Aston University

It was interesting to see the diverse reactions to research assessment exercises by different academics, often irrespective of their seniority. In this paper we challenge academics to work to shape such exercises to capture the more important aspects of research. For me, that would be answering 'real world questions' that can speak to practitioners and policy makers.

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The following have contributed to this page: Professor Carolyn J Cordery